A Beginner’s Guide to Composting

Celebrate Earth Day by learning to compost.



Next time you’re about to throw out that banana peel—stop yourself. Composting is a simple way to reduce greenhouse gas production that seriously harms the environment. Not only is composting easy to start at home, but there are even companies in the area that will compost for you. The Dirt Factory in University City is one of them, and senior manager of University City District and founder of the Dirt Factory, Seth Budick, has great advice for anyone ready to start composting.

People with yards can easily store leaves and grass clippings for composting.  Leaves are a free and valuable resource for compost bins that replenish every year. There are plenty of commercially available compost bins, but Budick recommends chicken wire for starters, which are low in cost and easy to construct. Once you have a constructed bin, you can start layering in material, using brown waste like leaves and cardboard, green waste like grass clippings, followed by fruit peelings and items like crushed eggshells. Layering is not necessary for great compost, though many find this helpful for getting rid of kitchen scraps. It can even be as simple as a bin full of shredded leaves. The process of composting could take up to nine months, but can then be used for rich soil. 

“Redirecting waste toward local composting takes a huge burden off of waste plantations,” Budick says. “I can’t stand trash on the streets.” At the Dirt Factory, area residents can bring compost materials to compost, instead of doing it at home, which is especially useful for residents who live in apartments. Without compost, tons of extra waste would be transported to landfills with no further purpose and would emit harmful methane gases.

There are only a few things to avoid when composting that all beginners should be wary of. Never include waste of non-herbivore animals, like dogs and cats, because waste bacteria could harm your compost pile. While fruit and vegetable peels can be a valuable compost resource, citrus peels and onions could harm microorganisms and slow down the decomposition process. Additionally, fish and meat scraps, glossy paper, stickers from produce, and anything with chemicals should not be included in the bin.

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